The food giant has just announced a massive programme to enter primary schools and teach children about where their food comes from (‘Tesco launches food education drive in primary schools as part of Eat Happy project‘).
Tesco’s ‘Eat Happy’ project says: “For kids to have a better relationship with food, we need to help them understand where it comes from, what it tastes like, what to do with it and the journey it takes to get to their plates”. How can one of the companies that last year was selling horsemeat, this year be teaching us where our food comes from? As the UK government investigation is ongoing and issues of provenance are, at best, unresolved, this seems entirely inappropriate, raising ethical questions of the commercialisation of the classroom and the suitability of the players involved.
This would be an ideal opportunity for the Scottish Government to take a clear stance and say ‘no thank you’. The Scottish Government has invested considerable money in high quality independent bodies to present materials on food and the environment in the curriculum and to organise farm visits. There is no place or need for corporate influence in schools.
This is simply a cynical ploy to establish an early connection with the supermarket shoppers of the future. If Tesco really care about children eating well and being happy they should give the £15m investment to the Government to improve food education and provision in schools and they should stop selling high fat and sugar foods aimed specifically at children.
On health grounds alone it makes no sense. It’s absurd that a retailer that still actively promotes highly-sugared drinks and foods as part of a child’s “healthy” diet should now position itself as a guide on good diet for children. The average child eats 50% more added sugar than health guidelines say they should, and 29% of Scots children are overweight or obese.”1
2013 was a year the food system was exposed as never before. We discovered that horsemeat was being sold in hundreds of products from dozens of companies across countless countries. This wasn’t an aberration it was widespread. Supermarkets were at the very heart of this crisis. This week we heard that it had been going on for three years before the ‘scandal’ became public.2
There’s clearly something very wrong with our food system. In the last year 350,000 people received three days’ emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks alone between April and September 2013, triple the numbers helped in the same period last year. 3 Only this month three men were charged under an obscure section of the 1824 Vagrancy Act, after being discovered in stealing food from a skip in London.4 The value of the food was put at £33, consisting of tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese. This is in Britain, in 2014. Now we’re told that Tesco is launching with Google and the NFU a massive ‘Farm to Fork’ programme in schools to educate our children about where food comes from. So the company that sold you horse is now lecturing you on provenance.
In 2014 we need to do better and this year of any should be about bigger ambition, not propping up business as usual.
We need to encourage best practice not open the door to profiteering. We, the undersigned, urge you to say No to Tesco in Schools.
Mike Small, Fife Diet
Pete Ritchie, Nourish Scotland
Alex Renton, author, food writer
Joanna Blythman, author, food writer
Heather Anderson, Whitmuir Organics
Donald Reid, food writer
Charlie Cornelius, The Iglu
Sue Laughlin, Nourish Scotland
Tracey Reilly, Nourish Scotland
Stephen Jardine, Taste